Lawmakers want details of arrangement on 'non-traditional' security concerns Senators have demanded to see the details of a new security arrangement with the US, fearing it will lead to a bigger American military deployment. Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel said on Tuesday the new arrangement 'is an expanded authority for the entry of foreign troops to our country and therefore needs ratification by the Senate'. The arrangement was casually disclosed late last week through a press statement announcing the creation of a joint panel called the Security Engagement Board, to be co-chaired by the Philippine Armed Forces chief and the commander of the US Pacific Command. Board members would include the major commanders of the Philippine military and US Pacific Command, representatives from the Philippine departments of defence and foreign affairs and the US Defence Department, and the US embassy in Manila's chief of mission. Defence chief Avelino Cruz and foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo described the new board as a 'mechanism for consultation and planning of measures and arrangements focused on addressing non-traditional security concerns'. They did not explain why a new panel was necessary when the existing Mutual Defence Board had the same chairmen and mostly the same members. The US embassy's website said the 'non-traditional security concerns' the new board would deal with 'are current and emerging security threats such as international terrorism, transnational crime, maritime safety and security, natural and man-made disasters and the threat of a pandemic outbreak that arise from non-state actors and transcend national borders'. Senator Pimentel said such concerns went beyond the scope of the existing security pact with the US, the Mutual Defence Treaty of 1951. This treaty limits mutual co-operation to instances when 'the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of the parties is threatened by external armed attack in the Pacific'. 'That is why we want to know the parameters,' he said, noting neither the US embassy nor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's government had made it clear that the American troops to be deployed under the new deal would also be governed by the highly contentious Visiting Forces Agreement. That agreement has come under intense criticism since four US soldiers, participating in joint military exercises, were accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipino. Citing the agreement, the US embassy has refused to give up custody of the soldiers. Government officials have insisted the new security arrangement was merely a 'mechanism' and an 'executive agreement' firmed up through the exchange of diplomatic notes, and not a new treaty needing Senate ratification. Mrs Arroyo created the Security Engagement Board through a memorandum signed on April 21. But Senate chief Franklin Drilon was adamant: 'I would like to see a copy of this security agreement before we can draw any conclusion that, indeed, it is a basing agreement, which would require ratification by the Senate.' The constitution requires a treaty before any foreign troops can be based in the country. There has been no permanent US base in the Philippines since 1992, when Subic Bay and Clark air base were abandoned. But numbers of US troops have been involved in training, engineering and humanitarian missions since 2002. America's envoy to Manila, Kristie Kelley, also said the new agreement 'is not a new treaty but would merely implement existing bilateral treaties between the Philippines and the US'. Weeks before the new arrangement was unveiled, US embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said the US Defence Department was planning to expand its military presence in the Philippines to boost its counter-terrorism efforts in Southeast Asia.